A Short Bridge to EV's
Hybrid electric/gasoline vehicles have been thought of as a bridge technology to full electric vehicles. There are a number of factors that could make the bridge long (25+ years) or short (a decade). Paypal cofounder and Tesla chairman Elon Musk is betting on a short bridge. Here's why:
- Hybrids represent a poor compromise. The product is neither a good EV or a good gas powered vehicle.
EM: Because you need both a gasoline-powered engine and a big battery, neither can be very good, and the engine will be a weak engine. It's just not where the future lies.
- Batteries capable of offering EV's comparable range to gasoline vehicles will be available sooner than most people think.
EM: We'll be able to offer a car with a 305-mile range roughly three years from now.
I think what we'll see is an increasing amount of energy being stored in the battery pack and a lowering of the cost of the battery pack over time.
If you look at the improvement of battery energy density, it tracks to about 8 or 9 percent a year.
- Tesla will address the EV road trip problem with their second model.
EM: There is the occasional road trip, but that's actually pretty rare, and for some people it's never. Our second model will address that rare case in two ways. One is to allow people to switch out the battery pack, so you can go to a battery-change station just like you'd go to a gas station. The second path is to have a high-speed charge. If you have a high-powered onboard charger, you can get an 80 percent charge in 45 minutes. If you're going from L.A. to San Francisco, which is about a 400-mile trip, you can drive 200 miles, stop for lunch, charge your car in the restaurant parking lot, finish lunch and continue the remaining 200 miles to San Francisco.
- And there will be improvements to EVs beyond batteries that will enable EV's.
EM: [Battery improvements are] not the only thing. The efficiency of the electric motor, the efficiency of the powertrain, the rolling resistance are all important.
- Part of the electric infrastructure improvement necessary for EV's can be done right at the EV owner's residence.
EM: I have another company, SolarCity, which is the largest provider of solar power to homes and businesses in California. The solution is to get a SolarCity solar panel on your roof and then have an electric car. It takes actually only a small solar-panel setup - of about 10 by 15 feet - to generate 200 to 400 miles a week of electricity for your car.
Read the whole interview.
(H/T to Michael Darling)
Musk didn't mention it, but there's another factor that would tend to push us to EV's quickly:
- Skyrocketing gas prices.
Dude. We're there.
No, I'm talking about $7,8... $10/gallon gas. If gas prices go in that direction the hybrid's gas engine will look less like a feature than a bug.